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Role Models: Carol Hasse

by Margaret Pommert

Everyone needs role models. Someone who can model behavior. Inspire. Teach by example. Demonstrate what’s possible. Recreational boating in the Pacific Northwest needs role models. Boaters who can lead others down appropriate channels to their dreams. Especially for under-represented groups, such as women who skipper their own boats. Women leaders in the boating community can act as beacons. When more women are actively enjoying boating, exploring the Salish Sea, introducing others to the sport, or supporting our local marine trades, then everyone wins. This month, I’d like to introduce a role model that has been so important to me and to countless other women (and men) on the water: Carol Hasse.

Most friends and colleagues just call her “Hasse.” But for me personally, it feels disrespectful to call someone by their last name alone. So, she lets me call her Carol. Carol is an expert sailmaker who has owned Port Townsend Sails, Inc. since 1978. Her loft produces what she proudly calls “Cape Horn worthy sails.” When the Seven Seas Cruising Association surveyed their membership worldwide to find the best sail loft for offshore cruising sails, for two decades the answer was the same: Port Townsend Sails. This world-renowned, sail-making team is all women, boasting over 100 years of collective sail-making experience.

Carol doesn’t just see her mission, nor that of her business, as just sail making. At Port Townsend Sails, “Our mission is to contribute to the self-reliance and confidence of our customers and to the integrity and tradition of the sail-making craft by providing hands-on education and by building the highest quality cruising sails available anywhere.”

Role Model Carol Hasse

Carol Hasse, being filmed for the next generation of safety-at-sea training.

Carol is an outstanding teacher. She’s been active in women’s sail training since working on the schooner Adventuress in the 1980s. Carol’s been active in Safety at Sea education in the Pacific Northwest for decades, so I’ve had the privilege of working with her many times. Carol always inspires, not only with her expertise, but with her kind and generous nature, the way she quietly holds her space, and anchors a team.

Like Carol, my passions include sailing instruction, promoting women in boating, and Safety at Sea. I went to her for guidance on how I could help contribute to Safety at Sea in the Pacific Northwest. She guided me to The Sailing Foundation, a Seattle-based non-profit. Now I serve on their board of directors and as their Offshore Safety at Sea hands-on training organizer.

It’s appropriate that years later, I had a chance to help Carol with the next generation of Safety at Sea training:
Online Safety at Sea Training.

In June, I had the opportunity to join Carol and a team from US Sailing’s Safety at Sea and Education groups in Port Townsend. The task was to create the last five modules for the online Offshore Safety at Sea training. This is world-class online training, developed by experienced professional educational designers, writers, videographers, and editors. The development of this training was funded in part by The Sailing Foundation.

This training is applicable for power boaters as well as sailors. It covers 15 modules in all, with topics including; Giving Assistance, Personal Safety Gear, Care and Maintenance of Safety Gear, Fire Safety, Marine Weather, and Waves. More information is available on the US Sailing website under the Safety at Sea heading.

Appropriately enough, Carol teaches the Storm Sails and Reefing module. In the online videos, she first takes you to her sail loft to demonstrate how storm sails are built, then onto the deck of a blue water cruiser to show how the sails are rigged and reefed. I’m so glad this online format allows Carol to share some of her expertise with a global audience and continue sharing her knowledge even after she retires from running her loft.

Carol’s Next Chapter

Visit the home page of Port Townsend Sails, and this message pops up:

“ANNOUNCEMENT: With immeasurable gratitude for our customers, friends, and crew, Carol Hasse will be retiring in early 2021. Her intention is to leave the business in good hands and good health; she is actively seeking a buyer and welcomes the opportunity to talk with anyone interested in taking the helm.”

I spoke to Carol about this transition, and her next chapter. She’s committed to finding a new owner who shares her commitment to the craft, clients, community, and employees. What then? Happily, she’s going to write a book to share some of her expertise on sail making and voyaging. Can’t wait!

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